The rise in world population and improvement in living standards in developing countries will result in an increase in agricultural product demand. As agriculture products demand increases water is becoming a precious  commodity  especially in poorer countries where agricultural land and water for irrigation are of primary importance.

Today’s world population of 6,000 million is expected to reach 8,100 million by 2030. This will gradually put a strain on water resources as water demand will increase from both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors of the economy.

small tomato plantThe question now is if we will have enough water to satisfy the needs of our agricultural system. During the last decades  agriculture operators have begun  adopting newer and more efficient irrigation systems and this has had a notable effect both in production and water saving. The technology has grown from the necessity to bring more efficiency in the practice of water management.

Sub surface drip irrigation (SDI) is an old and yet at the same time modern  irrigation system, which is being adopted in the farming industry.

It consists of a system of plastic tube installed below the ground.  Here the water is allowed to drip and moist the ground right where the roots are located.

 The advantages of SDI irrigation system are numerous:

First and foremost it saves a lot of water as there is no water dispersion or evaporation during irrigation. It prevents leaching of nutrients.  It is possible to fertilize the plants by using the same water conduit, in this case also nutrients are kept to a minimum quantity as it is brought right to the roots and is not dispersed. The topsoil remains always dry and this reduces the amount of pests and therefore pesticides to be used.  Soil compaction is reduced and this at the end results in improved transpiration. As the soil remains dry this facilitates the movement of machinery and workers, it is possible to use the same infrastructure to use products to improve the soil conditions such as disinfectants, fungicides, herbicides etc. The end result is better crop quality, colour, improved taste, calibre  and duration in the market.

Agraz  is investing a lot of its resources and knowledge in getting its farmers to adopt this technology.  According to Norwegian magazine Bedre Gardsdrift. “Agraz has earmarked eight persons to assist the 180 farmers in their effort to become one 100% sustainable by year 2015.  It is a requirement set by Agraz largest consumer Unilever”.

Agraz is the world’s fifth producer of tomato paste and number one in tomato powder. Sustainable development means that the supply chain is completely transparent farmers need to comply with Agraz requirements and invest in new irrigation  system that provide optimum water consumption which will result in better harvest as reported by Finnish newspaper Kauppalheti.

 The Spanish authorities are fully committed in sustaining these policies. Water is a resource and we are beginning to understand that we can’t take it for granted for ever. It needs to be managed carefully by taking into consideration not just the economical private profit but it needs to be brought into context in what  is often not put  in the classical economic equations and that is is our biodiversity.